Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This Must Be The Place You Were Meant To Be

Okay, today I'm going to start letting you in on some of the differences between The Chimera Falls Universe and the average fictitious universe.

When you get your hands on the more recent stories tied into this world, you'll notice that there are no 'real' cities (I put the real in quotes because even when a fictitious universe utilizes a real city like New York or L.A., the presence of fictional characters--in the case of a pulp or super hero story like most of the CF Universe stories are, fictional characters with abilities above and beyond the norm--removes them from being realistic settings) here. I like to think that a reader who pays attention will be able to figure out which of these CF cities is analogous to which real life cities in the United States. Hell, I'll freely admit that Nocturne, the city where The Shadow Legion operates, is analogous to New Orleans...even if the place was built over the swamplands of Florida.

The reason for this may be a little odd, but I like to think it's logical. Since the history of the heroes and heroines of the Chimera Falls Universe are supposed to be a reflection of the history of comic books, it stands to reason all the cities they operate in are fictional ones. In the Golden Age (the first book in the Shadow Legion series takes place in the fall of 1941, a month or two before Pearl Harbor prompts America to enter World War Two),it was standard for super-heroes to operate in fictional cities based on real ones. Hell, both Gotham and Metropolis are just reflections of two aspects of my home town--Gotham being the dark, dangerous New York, while Metropolis was New York as the bright burning beacon of hope and opportunity.

Thus, early on the writing of New Roads To Hell, I decided to acknowledge something I had played around with ever since I wrote the first story in the cycle and made all the cities ones that exist only on that universe's maps. Looking back on everything I've written about the denizens of the Chimera Falls Universe, real cities are mentioned only in passing. Elsa Dawn is from Chicago, and a flashback explaining her origin is set there in Onyx Revolver. Doc Thunder makes a very vague reference to Tulsa in 'Thunder Pursued.' But other than that, the stories in the CFU take place in unknown places like Hunter's Notch, Vahalla, the Falls itself...and now Nocturne.

The reason I enjoy fictional cities is because you can pretty much tailor them to your needs. In the case of Nocturne, I wanted something akin to New Orleans (you'll find out why at a later date), but with a central business district that would grow and evolve as we wander down the decades of its history, and a history of being amenable to tech firms so I could play off of the interface between magic and science at times, most particularly in what is going to be the second book in The Shadow Legion series, The Devil's Toybox. For some reason, I had a gut feeling that this new city would have been built over Florida swampland, partially by recently freed slaves. I already had in my mind that there would be a sharp economic and racial demarcation in the city's population--and the history I had in mind fused with this desire to create some of the neighborhoods that in turn influenced the origins and backgrounds of my characters. The Nightbreaker, in particular, changed as I developed the neighborhood of Lincoln that plays a major role in New Roads To Hell.

Could I have done a similar story by setting it in the actual New Orleans? Sure. Would it have been the same story? I don't think I could have enacted my main villain's plan without creating that specific neighborhood that, in turn, inspired some of the background of one of my main characters.

Now sharp readers who pick up New Roads To Hell when it becomes available some months from now might speculate whether some of the cities namechecked within are stand-ins for actual cities. Yes, they are...and I promise anyone who asks me privately about those cities will get my confirmation or denial.

I'll continue pulling back the curtain on the CFU soon...and will also start revealing some secrets about the quartet in that promotional image as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment